29 December 2018

On today’s show, we talked about the billionaire Founder of Dell Computers, Michael Dell. As you’ll learn on the show, Mr. Dell started his company out of his college dorm room and now has a personal net worth of over $28 billion.

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  • The story behind starting up Dell. 
  • Why a negative cash conversion cycle is key for the growth of any business.
  • How Michael Dell created a strategy for rapid growth. 
  • Which challenges Michael Dell had and how he overcame them. 
  • Ask the Investors: How do you find a co-founder, and how did Preston and Stig meet?


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Preston Pysh  0:02  

On today’s show, we talked about the billionaire Founder of Dell Computers, Michael Dell. As you’ll learn on the show, Mr. Dell started his company out of his college dorm room and now has a personal net worth of over $28 billion. 

During the show, we talked about how he built his company and the things he learned along the way. We cover his company’s rocket ship-like growth. We also talk about some of the struggles that he had to overcome to achieve such enormous business success. Without further delay, here’s our discussion on billionaire Michael Dell.

Intro  0:35  

You are listening to The Investor’s Podcast where we study the financial markets and read the books that influence self-made billionaires the most. We keep you informed and prepared for the unexpected.

Preston Pysh  0:55  

All right, welcome to The Investor’s Podcast. As usual, I’m accompanied by my co-host Stig Brodersen. My name is Preston Pysh. Like we said in the introduction, we’re going to be covering Michael Dell. We’re just going to jump straight into the questions. 

Mr. Dell was asked what was the story behind starting up Dell. This was his response.

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Michael Dell  1:12  

When I was a freshman at the University of Texas, I was going to school at every intention of going to school. I was kind of playing around with this as a hobby while I was going to school. It was sort of a really fun hobby for me because I was really interested in computers and selling upgrade kits to enhance computers. 

my parents kind of got wind of this and they were really upset because they thought that I should really only focus on going to collegeM y father’s a doctor, my brother’s a doctor. We had a lot of doctors in the family so I was going to be a doctor and so they were very, very upset with me They said, “Michael, go get your priorities straight.”

Around Thanksgiving of 1983, my parents kind of made me commit that I wasn’t going to do this computer business anymore and that I was only going to focus on my studies. That lasted about 10 days, and it was during that time that I decided that I was going to start a company. 

Actually, my parents kind of telling me to stop doing it is probably what caused the company to get created. If they hadn’t done that, it might have just been a hobby, but what I kind of reflected on in those 10 days was that I really love this and it was enormously exciting, tremendously fun. 

Like any other 18 year old who wants to do what their parents want them to do, you just don’t tell them. So that’s what I did. I kind of went about a path to start the company without really telling my parents. I moved into a larger apartment with really high ceilings to stack things up and managed to conceal it from them for quite some time. 

I basically kind of came to an arrangement with my parents. I said, “Look, I really want to go do this. I know you don’t want me to go do it but I’ve checked with the University of Texas and the way it works at UT is that you can take a semester off, and you can come back. Well, why don’t you agree to this? I’ll take the semester off. I’ll go and do this. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to school. If it does, I’ll just keep doing it.” 

And so, they agreed. If they hadn’t agreed, I probably would have done it anyway. In May of 1984, I incorporated the company, and off we go.

Preston Pysh  3:44  

I just love the story. I don’t really know what to say because the story tells so much. I think my comment on this would be if you’re a parent, and you have a child that is going against the grain and you’re trying so hard to push them in a certain direction, you might want to just replay that story because sometimes the best way to exercise control is to provide free will, right? 

In this scenario, the harder the parents push, the harder he goes the other way. That’s a cool story. I think for every time you would play a story like that the hit rate or the success rate might be 1 out of 10. I think that’s important for people to keep in their mind as well. Like Stig and I are providing an example of a major success, like you couldn’t get a bigger success. T

hat was a story, but we could probably go and record Joe Schmo who’s now not owning his own business and working for some other firm who has that exact same story and he wasn’t successful. I think it’s a great story. 

It’s a cautionary story at the same time, but I think it’s a common story that you see from the people that we study. They almost all started out like that. It’s really neat.

Stig Brodersen  5:02  

Yeah and I also feel that as an entrepreneur, it might be easier for me to say so but if you won’t allow your kid who is 18 years old and lives in a dorm, if he’s not starting a company, I mean, when should he? I mean, it’s not when he is 28 and he has a family and a mortgage to pay. That might not be the right time. If he’s 18 years old, why not give him a break for like six months or so?

The reason why I wanted to play this clip, partly because of the story. I like how he moved into a place where the idea was that he would just stack up the equipment that he was selling. It was quite a cool entrepreneurial story, but also studying so many self-made billionaires, as we have here on the show, I’ve always tried to decipher how much of a role that luck plays. 

How lucky was it then when he started up in 1984 he could sell out specific IBM PC competitive parts and upgrades to that? Was that just luck? Bill Gates has talked so much about being born in 1955, how that was the luckiest time to be born because otherwise he couldn’t have been successful, in terms of acquiring the programming skills. It really started the business based on that, simply because no one else did that. Was that just luck? 

I know that by definition, you cannot really answer this. We can’t say if Michael Dell was born 20 years before or 20 years later, how successful would he have been? We don’t know, but I think that someone like Michael Dell, and you will get to learn much more about him here later in the episode… 

I think he would be very successful with the drive he just has, almost regardless of when he was born. Perhaps not where he was born, but when he was born. If he wouldn’t be the $20 billion success which he has, I’m sure he would have done quite well and he probably still wouldn’t have told his parents.

Preston Pysh  6:57  

The next question we have was, “You started with almost no capital, how did you manage to grow so fast?” This was his response.

Michael Dell  7:04  

I started with $1,000, almost no capital. The interesting thing about the business that we started was that because we were selling directly to the customer, the customer would pay us often right at the time we shipped the product. We were able to get credit lines from suppliers.

We had what’s known as a negative cash conversion cycle, which is a very good thing in a business like ours. We still have that today. It helps us generate significant positive free cash flow. 

Essentially, what it means is that when you look at the complete balance of how fast do our customers pay us, and how fast we pay our suppliers, how much inventory do we have, the net of all that is that we actually collect money way before we pay the money out. That’s a beautiful thing.

In fact, it allows a company to grow very quickly, because you have a sort of negative working capital. We didn’t require lots of capital. We weren’t as efficient then as we are now, but we were able to grow quite rapidly without a ton of capital. 

Now, we were growing at such enormous rates. We needed some capital. We needed some buildings and we needed some infrastructure. We got a little bit of capital, we got a credit line, and we eventually did a private placement. We went public in 1988 on NASDAQ and attracted some capital so we can expand around the world and continue growing.

Stig Brodersen  8:36  

I really like what he said here about your money, cash flow in and cash flow out. It’s basically what is referred to as the cash conversion cycle, which is if you are an accounting geek like me, it’s something I like to talk about. 

If you look at how fast Dell grew, it might seem that it’s almost impossible. How can you have a company that is buying equipment and then selling that to customers and started with 1000 bucks, and then in the matter of no time it became this huge company that went just IPO?

Basically what he talks about here is that it boils down to cash flow coming in and when cash flow is going out, because if you can get the money up front, and then pay your suppliers later, it doesn’t really matter if you start with 1000 bucks or 100,000 bucks. 

If you just reverse this really to get a grasp of this, say that you even have $100,000, if you have to buy, say 100 pieces of equipment for $1,000 each, and then have to wait 30 days to collect that money, before we have the cash and then go out and ask your supplier, “Oh, by the way, could you send me some more and I’ll have to pay upfront for that?”

It’s not impossible, but the speed you can gain with the opposite is just exponentially different. That’s also one of the reasons why you’ve seen some of these major tech companies like Amazon and why they have been able to grow as fast.

Yes, it’s a great business model and yes, they have great products. But a lot of it really comes down to something that we tend to oversee, which is the cash conversion cycle. It’s so important in growing companies.

Preston Pysh  10:12  

Alright, so the next question we’re going to play, Mr. Dell was asked, “What are your thought processes on creating a strategy that could sustain high growth for years to come?” The question was asked in the context of very early in his company what were those strategies that they would implement in the coming five years? So this was his response.

Michael Dell  10:30  

I was 22 years old. We actually had a pretty important meeting about seven or eight months earlier. We kind of went off for a few days with some of the really smart people in the company and a few outside advisors. We said, “Well, what are we going to do with this company? I mean, this thing’s really growing fast. What do we do?” 

We kind of had three strategies that we clued in on as our growth path for the future. First one we said you got to go outside the US because 96% of the people in the world live outside the United States. It’s going to be at least half the opportunities outside the United States. You can’t just be a domestic company. 

Second thing we said was, we really want to go after large companies, because they underwrite their purchase of technology through productivity and they can afford the best tools. That’s what we know is going to be a lucrative opportunity. We really want to go after that in a big, big way. Kind of an odd thing for a little company like ours to grow dramatically with IBM and others in the field. 

The third thing we said was differentiating our business is going to be really key. The way to do that is on service. You’ve got to have better service than a competitor. So we invented this idea of on site service for the PC, which should really never been done before. 

The way this is work is you know, let’s say you went to Computer Land. There used to be such things in the United States and in every street corner. You bought a computer and it didn’t work. You’d put it back in the car and you’d go there and fix this thing. Then come back a week or so later and they give it to you. Iur idea was that you’d call us on the phone and say, “Hey, my computer’s not working.”  We’d come the very next day and fix it.,

It turns out there were all sorts of third party companies that had field service networks, companies, like Xerox, for example, who had all these technicians all over the country, who were kind of waiting for copiers to fail. They had this fixed capacity and so we could buy up that excess capacity at way less cost that what we could put it in ourselves. Then instantly have in a way better service. Actually, Xerox is a company we we use for quite some time.

Customers are so much interested in all the bits and bytes and how fast the computer is and what it does. They want to know that this installation of a critical system that they’re putting inside their business is really going to work well. They’re looking for a solution. We have to know a lot about their business, and we have to really be able to consult with them and tailor a solution that meets their needs.

Preston Pysh  13:14  

After hearing the response there, the thing that I kind of took away from his first answer for his first of the three strategies was to go international to create more growth. However, I really like the second two responses, because the second two responses were focused on basically the customer, right? 

It wasn’t, “Hey, we’re going to do this, which is a benefit to our company.” It was, “Hey, we’re going to do this because it adds more value to the customer and then that’s going to put us above and beyond the other competition that isn’t providing this value to the customer.”

The first one he said they’re going to become more lean in their manufacturing so that they can produce a product that’s lower price. Then the second one was the service model that he got into a lot of depth on that was not being conducted. I think that anytime a founder is customer focused, it is going to help them dramatically succeed against whatever competition they’ve got. So it was interesting to see how he named those two things. 

I’m curious to hear Stig’s thoughts. 

Stig Brodersen  14:18  

I liked the third part that he brought up with the service. Well, he didn’t really have IT or very little. He didn’t have an IT department. I think my takeaway here is that as business people, we need to understand that while we can be super nerdy about something, say computers or whatever this, most people don’t care about that. I mean, most people can’t tell the difference between megahertz or gigahertz. They don’t know, but they do know whether or not the computer is not working. 

That was really what he was getting at and why he was also consistent with the second part of the strategy: we will deliver a great service so it always works but we will only do that for the customers who can afford to pay that and the big companies because the big companies have high opportunity costs. It needs to work and we can *inaudible* superior rates for that because it’s just so important. 

Really his idea of that customer focus as you talked about I think it’s so important. Just make it easy for the customer. Give them no excuse why not to buy.

Preston Pysh  15:27  

Well, what I like about it is it provides a sustained cash flow too, so if you can crack into this revenue stream of service, and you can win in that area, that’s going to be providing a consistent cash flow, whereas the rest of his business which is hardware sell is more of a, “I sell it. I have to wait three years for some customers. I might have to wait five years for another customer before they make another hardware purchase and then they have to be happy with the service. They have to be happy with the performance of that hardware in order for them to buy my hardware again.” 

I think the service model was a great approach that a lot of people at this point in time were not doing. They’re providing this constant cash flow and so then he’s able to take that money, reinvest it into better processes, so he can make his hardware better. You can kind of see how his model and the thinking kind of compounded on itself, more so than his other competitors at that point in time. 

The last question we’re going to play for you was he was asked, “Which challenges and setbacks have you had and how did you overcome them?” This was his response.

Michael Dell  16:34  

We had problems in 1993 that I think were multi-faceted. One big challenge was that the company had grown so fast. We had grown from 1988, to maybe 150 million, to by 1993, almost 2 billion in revenues. The infrastructure, the systems and processes were not really keeping up. In fact, in one year, we grew from less than 900 million to over 2 billion. It was a real mess. We sort of had to stop and reevaluate things. We had real challenges in how fast can you build factories, how fast can you hire people, put up new buildings and hypergrowth. 

It sounds really fun and exciting but I learned the hard way, there is such a thing as growing too fast, where the wheels sort of come off and you have to take a timeout and say, “Wait a second here. Let’s prioritize.”

I was absolutely to blame. We were going and doing so many things at one time, because we were really excited. We were like, “Okay, we’re going to go in this business and in that business. We’re going to go to this country, this new product and this new service.” It was just too much of a good thing. And so, we had to really own it back.

The Olympic was a project that we created, still it was there and so we made the decision to recall all of those batteries. Now, the interesting thing if you go back and look at when we made that decision, the popular wisdom was that it was an issue that was unique to Dell. Dell was the only company in the world that had this problem. It must have been because Dell did something wrong and the way it designed its computers.

Several weeks later, another computer company announced a similar recall for the same Sony batteries. Then several weeks after that, another company. Eventually all of the companies that used the Sony batteries announced recalls. We were very proactive in doing it. I think our teams did a fantastic job in sort of doing the right thing. 

You could have had all sorts of arguments about, well, it’s a really small percentage or those kinds of things, but we actually knew the problem was there, even though there were debates abou is it going to be six batteries that fail or is it going to be 10 batteries that fail. It doesn’t really matter. One battery failing is one too many. 

My experience is that when you find a problem, you fix it as fast as you find it and just move on, whatever the consequences are of fixing it, you just deal with it and just keep going.

Preston Pysh  19:14  

His first response there in reference to growing too fast, I kind of see this from two different vantage points. In tech, especially, if you’re not moving fast, you’re going to get clobbered or you’re just going to miss the boat. 

There’s a book called “Inside the Tornado,” and this is actually one of Steve Jobs’ favorite books. If you’re in tech, I would highly, highly encourage you to read this book because it talks about how you can have the best product if you miss the timing of where the rest of the markets are or you’re just a little bit late to the market. You can just totally miss the boat. 

It’s hard for me to put myself in Michael Dell’s shoes as to why he was growing at the speed he was growing and whether he could have dialed it back a little bit or he had to move at that pace, just because of all the dynamics that are talked about in this book. I’m telling you this is a fabulous book, especially if you’re in tech. 

However, I think the downside of growing too quickly is the culture piece of your business, the long term sustainability of your culture. When you grow at that speed, you’re basically putting butts in seats as fast as you possibly can. You’re not necessarily doing that filtering that you need in order to establish the culture that you truly want to have inside of your company. 

So the long term impact of this, this massive growth is that you might be dealing with cultural clashes within your company for a very long period of time. It might not even be something that you can correct and that might be a really extreme comment. 

However, for me, personally, I think culture is extremely important. If you have a product or service that doesn’t need to move fast, you’re able to sustain your competitive advantage because maybe it’s something that’s not tech related or the necessity to move fast is not there, I would tell people to go at a pace that allows you to continue to control that culture within your business because it’s going to lead to a longer sustained success and control of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

Stig Brodersen  21:15  

It’s interesting that you should mention “Inside the Tornado” and the advantages of scaling so fast. I’m currently reading a book by Reid Hoffman called “Blitzscaling.” He talks about this concept. It’s a very interesting concept in terms of how fast you grow and especially if you are in a winner takes all kind of industry, why that blitzscaling is so important and why you should sometimes ignore *inaudible* products and why you should ignore angry customers. It’s a very interesting discussion. 

In continuation of that, I think it’s interesting how Michael Dell talks about this growth, but also how there are some problems with that in terms of, say the idea of the batteries, sending out flawed products. How much time should you spend on fixing the issues that you have? How much time should you spend on just keeping on going because you need that first mover advantage?

Whether it’s professionally or personally, I think it’s very important to stay humble, which was really what I took away from what Michael Dell was talking about here. Be the first one to fix it. We are as human beings are very good at forgiving and we are really good at people redeeming themselves, but we are not good whenever it comes to arrogance. 

It’s this short term pain, a long term gain because of course, the extra cost is not fun and the media coverage the next day might be quite embarrassing. However, going back to the culture piece that you talked about before. Preston, what really remains to that organization is to be proud of what they do because they know that the quality is there. Even if it’s not just, it is going to be fixed. Then the image of the company is humble.

It’s whenever we start becoming arrogant that’s whenever you see politicians or celebrities really fall from grace. You can’t put yourself on that pedestal. But if you do, the downside is just going to be so much more harsh for you. So blitzscaling is fantastically high growth, but if you’re not delivering the kind of product that you’re proud of, and you want to deliver, I don’t see what the growth is useful for.

Preston Pysh  23:32  

All right, so we hope you guys enjoyed some of the questions and responses that we play there from Michael Dell. At this point, we’re going to transition into a question that was asked from the audience and we think that the question has a good parallel to some of the conversations that were happening with Michael Dell because it relates to finding a business partner. Now this question was asked to us by Viam. This is what he asked

Audience 1  23:55  

Hi, Preston and Stig. My name is Viam Joshi. I’ve been listening to your podcasts since 2015. You guys have been doing a great job. I’ve been loving it. Keep up the good work. 

The question that I had was to do with the startup culture that we have going on these days where people recommend that we find a co-founder who complements our interest and our skills. So I just wanted to ask you guys how both of you met each other and how you found The Investor’s Podcast and more or less your journey on how you got to where you are today. Thank you for sharing and keeping up the good work. Thank you.

Preston Pysh  24:35  

Man, I’d like to say was very strategic and we had this whole plan. The fact of the matter is it was none of that. This is my vantage point. I’m kind of curious if Stig sees it the same way. 

I started the Buffett’s books, videos, the website and stood up a forum. In the early days of the forum, it was kind of me and two people talking on the forum about accounting. One day this guy named Stig shows up. We’re probably posting comments that are four sentences long, like, “Oh, yeah, I like General Electric, or I like this company.”

Then this guy shows up and all he wants to talk about is oil. Not only is it a post about oil, but it’s like a five page analysis, just going into detail all about oil. He just kept talking. Each post just got longer and longer and longer. I was like, “Who in the world is this guy?”

After a few months of watching his posts on this forum, and kind of talking back and forth, I shot him a personal message. I said, “Hey, tell me about yourself.” He said, “I studied at Harvard and this and that.” I thought, “Wow, this guy. He’s a pretty interesting guy.”

I was in the process of writing an accounting book at the time, but was struggling with Time, and I was not able to get it across the finish line. It was just like this is never going to get done. But based on how this guy writes, and he seems really, really aggressive in really wanting to be a part of anything finance-related. So I reached out to him, I was like, “Hey, do you want to finish this book or work with me on getting this book done?” He said, “Absolutely, let’s do it.”

And so, Stig and I finished writing the Warren Buffett Accounting Book together, and we ended up publishing that book together. This was right at the point where the podcasting stuff was starting to become really popular.  

I said to Stig, “You know, I think this would be a lot of fun. We could just record conversations. You and I could just have conversations about finance, about what stocks we’re looking at, we’ll record it. If we have five people that listen to it, we have five people that listen to it. At the end of the day, it’ll just be fun for us to have conversations about something we’re learning or if we’re reading a book, we can talk about that or whatever.” Stig said, “I don’t have a real radio voice, but I’ll do it.”

We just started recording our conversations. One thing led to another and here we are.People actually listen to this. 

I would like to say it was something that we had planned, but it really wasn’t. It was just something that we did for fun. We kept doing it for fun, and then it just slowly turned into a business. 

The thing that I would tell people about, at least from our vantage point from our story, is if it’s not something that you are willing to… I’ll give you a perfect example. This episode right now. I woke up at 4:45 to record this episode. You have to love what you’re doing to do that. There has never been a day where I’ve just dreaded doing this, like this is just fun for me. I think Stig would tell you the same thing. It’s just a lot of fun. 

This is what we’d love to do. We’d love to sit around and talk about an income statement. That is not normal for most people, most people would absolutely hate that. 

You got to find a person who just absolutely loves the business, or the product, or whatever it is, you’re working on just as much as you because if they don’t, it’s just not going to work in the long term. Two years in, they’re going to be so sick of whatever it is that they’re doing that is just not going to last. 

I think finding a partner that has the same passion and the same interest is extremely difficult to do. 

Now, one other thing that I think was a big advantage for Stig and me is because we have read so many books together, we have a very, very similar mindset on how our business should be run. It’s almost hilarious how Stig will come to me and say, “I think we should do this.” I’d be like, “Yeah, absolutely. Let’s do it.” And vice versa. I’ll go to him and say, “Hey, I think this is a bad idea.” “Like, yeah, you’re probably right. Let’s not do that.”

I think one of the reasons why, and that can be bad at times, because you need to have some friction points at certain points in time. But as far as the ease of running a business, it is really nice to have a person who’s grounded in a lot of the same fundamentals. 

I guess what I would tell you is, if you’re looking for a co-founder, or you’re looking for somebody to do the business with, I would highly encourage you to try to read some of the same books, especially if they’re good, core fundamental books, because you are just going to be in sync with each other. I think that that’s really important to kind of have that framework. 

There’s a saying, I don’t know where it comes from, but it says, “If you want to go far, you’re going to go together. If you want to go fast, go alone.” I think that that’s really representative of whatever your interests are of starting a business. You got to kind of understand that mindset. If you’re going far, I think having a partner is really, really good. It’s really hard to find the right person. I just want to say this publicly, I really treasure my relationship with Stig.  feel so blessed and so lucky. So, Stig I know I just took all the time. Let us hear your vantage point.

Stig Brodersen  30:20  

I experienced this completely differently than. I didn’t at all, Preston. I think you described the story very well. Typically when people ask, I always say that we met online, because then people will be always like, “Oh, my God. What happened there?”

However, we kind of met online in the sense that we met on an online forum. You created Buffett’s Books and that’s how we started to chat. I think that was very fortunate and in a way, I also think we created our own luck in the sense that who sits and talks about accounting on an online forum? 

I think you said something about it being serendipitous at some point in time, just before we started the podcast. Though sometimes I think back and realize, “No, Preston, if you can find two people in the world who want to talk about accounting on an online forum in writing, it’s not serendipitous. It’s just two people with too much time.” 

Perhaps that’s more. I almost feel bad about playing this question and talking about how I met Preston, after having four questions about Michael Dell. It’s probably not a fair comparison. 

The one thing I would say here is really that he was having a lot of fun. He started this business up because it was a lot of fun. Then he realized he could also make money and  he started growing. Then he made a bunch of money. However, it has to be fun whenever you start. 

Don’t find a business partner or start by yourself to make money. If you start out by having fun, perhaps you will make money, most likely not, but it’s not going to be the other way around. It’s not going to be fun, if it’s not fun to begin with. 

That was also one of those things that we talked about. Preston, when we started that it has to be fun first of all, then see where it takes us because going back to the old forum, which is not even online anymore, I wrote over 1000 posts. Over 1000 posts about accounting. Oh my god and about oil apparently also. I remember that specific thread you talked about.

In my defense, if you were saying Stig has no life, it’s absolutely true. It’s not really in my defense. I was on leave for a job. Secondly, I was not permitted to work or to do anything for a year. I was permitted though to sit and talk about accounting in a forum. I had a lot of time on my hands. When I stumbled across this forum with people who are just like-minded, I had this idea that if I just kept on giving, something good will come back to me. That was you, Preston.

Preston Pysh  32:44  

That’s such a true statement. If you’re just doing something because you love doing it and you’re just trying to make a better impact, I think that everything else will kind of fall in place. I think when a person is chasing money, maybe they’re starting a business because they want to make a lot of money, what you often find is their success, because sometimes people can be successful in their pure motivation to make money but their success is usually short lived. 

What kind of falls out of some of those motivations is if the person wants to make even more money. So then they go out and they raise venture capital. Next thing you know, they only own 5% of the business and they got some venture capital person that’s breathing down their throat. They’re absolutely miserable. They’re in a position where they’ve made a lot of money, but it was just a completely miserable experience for 5 years or 10 years. 

Some people would say, “Hey, I’ll take that,” and that’s fine. There are people out there that fit their motivation. That’s not something I ever want to go through. I want to be happy. I want to enjoy my time with my family. I want to have an impact. And so for us, this was a great fit. It was very casually put together and just kind of happened.

Listen to some of Michael Dell’s comments, because Stig is exactly right. This is not about Stig and I, but it’s more about Michael Dell. 

I get the sense from his response that he actually loves this stuff that he was doing. He was having a blast, when he’s telling the stories about back in the day when he’s in college, and he wasn’t enjoying his classes. He was enjoying this stuff he was doing with creating hardware and selling it and having an impact in that way. 

You got to take a look at yourself, what is it that you love to do? Really kind of make sure that something is centered around that because if it’s not, I just think it’s hard for people to sustain the motivation to go through it. 

Stig Brodersen  34:27  

One thing I would like to add, because you specifically talked about how do you find that other part and what kind of skills should he or she possess? I would say that I would not find a person who would complement me. 

I know that sounds counterintuitive, especially in this day and age where especially here in the Western world, we have a culture where everyone has to have high self worth. We celebrate diversity. Everyone is good at something. No one is bad at anything. It’s all about complementing each other. 

There are other good reasons why that’s true. But I would think in terms of finding a business partner, it’s okay to have a ton of different blind spots. It’s okay that you have a business partner and you still don’t know how to do accounting or you still don’t know how to do design. 

I think that’s completely fine. I think the one thing you need to look for in the business partner is having this narrow focus and how can you together become 5% better than anyone else? So you can get that 10x or 100x return because you are better together.

Preston Pysh  35:32  

Alright Viam, thank you so much for asking your question. This one was really fun for Stig and I to respond to. As a token of appreciation for asking your question and getting it played on the show, we’re going to give you a free subscription to our TIP Intrinsic Value course that we have on our website. 

If anybody’s interested in checking out this course, it’s tipintrinsicvalue.com. The course there teaches people how to value an individual stock pick so if you want to figure out the value of company X, it teaches you how to look at the accounting, how to determine the discount cash flow, how to do an IRR calculation. All of that fun stuff is all wrapped into this course. We’re going to give that to you completely for free. 

So if anybody else out there, if you want to get your question played on the show and receive a free subscription to our course, it’s a lifetime subscription. You can go to asktheinvestors.com and record your question. If it gets played on the show, you get a free course.

Stig Brodersen  36:27  

Alright guys, that was all that Preston and I had for this week’s episode of The Investor’s Podcast. We will see each other again next week. 

Outro 36:36  

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